Last month, a South Carolina judge ruled that New Beginnings Baptist Church is the rightful owner of the property on which the Redneck Shop operates, the Associated Press reports. The Redneck Shop sells Ku Klux Klan robes and t-shirts with racial slurs on them.
The store has been in operation since 1996, in an old movie theater in Laurens, South Carolina,Â a city named after 18th century slave trader Henry Laurens.
In 1997, ownership of the building was transferred to Rev. David Kennedy and New Beginnings Baptist ChurchÂ by a Klansman who was feuding with others inside the KKK.Â A clause in the deed permits John Howard, formerlyÂ KKKÂ grand dragon for the Carolinas,Â to operate his store in the building until he dies.
The church spent years attempting to inspect the property, but was not permitted to do so, after which they filed suit to prove ownership and assert its right of inspection.
The Redneck Shop has been protested by many in the past, including by Rev. Kennedy, who has been an activist for years.
“It has been a long time coming,” said Rev. Kennedy of the ruling. “We knew we had done everything right.”
Rev. Kennedy says that New Beginnings Baptist Church has suffered a decline in membership in recent years, as its members have become afraid of retaliation from KKK members.Â Nazi and Confederate symbols have been tacked to the doors of the church building, and dead animals have been left at the building.
“A lot of people became so afraid,” Rev. Kennedy recounted. “I just told them that it is part of our faith to endure.”
Rev. Kennedy has desired to close the store and hold his church meetings there, but felt that some congregants would be fearful of worshippingÂ in the structure that once segregatedÂ moviegoers and now sells Klan-related materials.
How would you feel about it if you were a member of New Beginnings Baptist Church???